Camus at 100: Rock On!

Interesting piece in the LA
Times about the 100th birthday of Albert Camus. Here’s a

Camus is famous for two works that plumb absurdity. In “The
Stranger,” Meursault senselessly kills a man — an act the absurdity
of which is revealed only when others demand in vain a reason. “The
Myth of Sisyphus,” in turn, considers the punishment meted out to
the mythical king of Corinth, condemned to spend eternity pushing a
boulder up a mountainside, only to watch it roll back down. Both
heroes overcome their absurd fate by embracing it, by making it
their own. We must, Camus concluded, imagine them happy.

But by the time the books were published in occupied France,
Camus was no longer happy with their conclusions. The absurd, he
scrawled in his journal, “teaches nothing.” Instead of looking to
ourselves for answers, as do his heroes, we must look to others. We
are, Camus recognized, condemned to live together in this silent
world. Our deepest impulse, once we realize the silence will never
end, is to refuse this state of affairs. To shout “no” to the world
as it is, to shout “yes” to the world as it should be.

Read the whole thing.

If you ever dug Camus (or still do), I highly recommend George
Existential America
(2003). From a

“To be existential,” writes Cotkin, “is to wrestle most fully
with the jagged awareness of one’s own finitude, with the
thunderbolt fact that my death will be my own, experienced by no
one else….To be existential is to recognize, in the face of all
these somber truths clutched close to our own sense of being, that
we must act.”

Cotkin’s most original insight is something that escaped Camus
and the others: “Existentialism, American style…jibes well with
American antinomianism, that willingness of the lonely individual
to rebel against entrenched authority in the name of his or her
most intense beliefs. Antinomianism, like existentialism,
challenges easy certitude, entrenched religion, and moribund
political assumptions.”

from Hit & Run

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